Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Gusts could hit 60 mph today; Lake flooding warning thru Wednesday

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By KEVIN NEVERS

As of this morning, Greater Duneland had braved pretty well Hurricane Sandy’s Great Lakes blowback.

But wind speeds were forecast to increase this afternoon and right now it’s anybody’s guess just how badly eroded the wave-pounded beaches are, because at the moment they’re under water.

Begin with power outages. At 10:30 a.m. the Northern Indiana Public Service Company was reporting a total of 4,863 customers in the dark, with better than a quarter of them—1,557—in the Duneland area.

Other areas with large numbers of juiceless customers: Michigan City, with 1,938; Gary, with 300; LaPorte, with 298; Portage, with 258; and Valparaiso, with 153.

Actual wind damage, however, appeared to be light in Duneland. Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported a small limb down in the area of 18th Street and Wood Street. “Other than that we haven’t had any real damage,” he said. “Obviously our hazard-tree removal program is working.”

David James, assistant superintendent of the Porter County Highway Department, told much the same story. “A few trees down, that’s all,” he said.

A minor brush fire was caused around 8 a.m. when downed power lines in the area of Meridian Road and C.R. 1050N arced and ignited some vegetation, Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police told the Chesterton Tribune. But the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department responded quickly to the scene, he said.

Both Schnadenberg and James agreed, though, that the situation would have been considerably different even a month ago, when trees were mostly still leaved. Those leaves tend to catch the wind and act like sails, torquing and twisting the limbs. “If the leaves were still on the trees, we’d have had a lot more damage,” Schnadenberg said.

In Porter, meanwhile, the focus is on Porter Beach, which was being violently lashed by high waves. Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer said that so far the barricades placed along the turn-around, in the area of State Street, have done a good job keeping the sand from drifting and piling into the roadways.

“Hopefully, we don’t get those 60 mile per hour gusts they’re talking about” later in the day, Brueckheimer said.

At Indiana Dunes State Park, the water was approximately two-thirds of the way above its normal level in front of the Pavilion, Property Manager Brandt Baughman said. “But the rest of the beach is completely under water. I would say we do have some concerns about beach erosion but we can’t really tell anything at this point because the beach is submerged.”

“It’s just absolutely brutal down there,” Baughman added.

Forecast

This morning a high wind warning was in effect until 7 p.m. today, with strong northerly winds possibly gusting up to 60 mph near the Dunes shoreline before easing this evening, the National Weather Service said. Those winds could stack waves of 22 to 27 feet in height, with likely beach erosion and likely lakeshore flooding.

Winds could continue to gust between 35 and 40 mph on Wednesday, keeping waves in the 13 to 18 foot range.

Parking Lots at

National Lakeshore Closed

The high waves and potential flooding prompted the National Park Service (NPS) after deadline on Monday to close its parking lots at the Porter Beach, Mt. Baldy, and Central Ave. access points in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site was kept open but the beach, breakwater, and riverwalk areas were closed.

“Visitors are urged to use caution on park trails and other shoreline locations due to high winds and the possibility of falling trees and branches,” NPS said.

 

 

 

 

Posted 10/30/2012